The recent BBC series How To Stay Young was probably well named from the perspective of getting high viewing figures, but actually, the series went much further by demonstrating the extent to which physical activity, brain training, mindfulness and food, not only maintain health, but, in many cases, reverse poor health and in doing so, impact very favourably on the ageing process.
The final part included a participant with Type 2 Diabetes and, encouragingly, she became non-diabetic in the course of 12 weeks by addressing and changing her food choices. This was not particularly easy (is it ever?) not only because she had to commit to relinquishing her sweet treats, predominantly cake and biscuits, but also because she was put on a strict calorie controlled diet which often left her feeling hungry. We wondered if this part could be done differently, and there’s reason to believe it could.
The prime objective of the calorie controlled diet was to reduce her visceral fat (the fat that resides around organs in the body). It’s highly likely that a predominantly raw food diet would have the same effect; it is, in fact precisely this that enabled Graham to reach what appears to be his natural body weight of just over 11st, having been uncomfortably close to 18st eight years ago. Clearly, this would never classify as hard evidence, but it’s not an isolated experience. Simply Raw released in 2009 showed the progress, struggles and transitions of 6 people with diabetes over the course of 30 days eating raw, living foods. The results were nothing short of spectacular. (The film seems to be unavailable currently on Amazon but it may well be available elsewhere for anyone interested).
We’ve often wondered why this way of eating might lead to these desirable results rather than needing to resort to meticulous calorie counting, and we can highlight a few suggestions here. The participant on the BBC1 programme was eating foods such as pasta, and white pasta at that. We do know now that refined carbohydrates spike blood sugar levels. A raw food spaghetti dish would likely have been made of courgette spaghetti adorned with a tasty sauce. This way of eating tends not to include grains other than sprouted grains, which are generally more digestible, and they would not be cooked. Eating a good proportion of fruits and especially vegetables raw prevents many of their nutrients from being degraded by heat and while some nutrients do benefit from cooking, a 50 : 50 approach at least seems to be helpful.
The matter of the sweet ‘treats’ is trickier as there is a degree of addiction and this really needs to be broken if optimum health is to be restored. But there are raw food desserts and they can be divine! The sweetness in these desserts doesn’t come from industrialised, refined sugar, instead, much of it comes from a food source such as coconut, dates or other fruit and as such there is more fibre in the food slowing down the rate at which the sugars are absorbed. Is it possible to over-indulge in raw sweet treats? Most definitely, but there is additional help from eating this way; the high proportion of nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits make it a very nutrient dense way of eating, meaning less of it is needed to trigger the ‘satisfied’ feeling, after all, from the perspective of the body, eating is a quest for nourishment and high nutrient meals make this easy.
For those who are interested or needing to make changes, our role, as we see it, is showing how it can be exciting to eat more like this, offering inspiration and ideas, none of which involve sets of rules or any sense of absolutism (we’re not 100% raw ourselves), and above all we hope to demonstrate that it can be enjoyable, creative and sustainable, in contrast, we believe, to a regimented ‘diet’. This is the prime motivation behind our classes and lunches (please take a look at the calendar if you’re interested to see what’s coming up for the rest of 2017).
We’ve already alluded previously to one of our plans for 2018, namely The Power of Nature for Ageing Well. This will be a 3 part class series, but additionally we’re working on plans for four other new classes; please let us know your thoughts on any of these:
The Power of Nature for:
- Mental health
- Weight management
- A healthy vegan lifestyle
As always, do get in touch if there’s anything you would like to know, of if any of our suggestions for new classes resonate with you.
Annette & Graham Henry